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Dozsa, Gyorgy

DOZSA, GYORGY (d. 1514), Hungarian revolutionist, was a Szekler squire and soldier of fortune, who won such a reputation for valour in the Turkish wars that the Hungarian chancellor, Tamás Bákocz, on his return from Rome in 1514 with a papal bull preaching a holy war in Hungary against the Moslems, appointed him to organize and direct the movement. In a few weeks he collected thousands of so-called Kuruczok (a corruption of Cruciati), consisting for the most part of small yeomen, peasants, wandering students, friars and parish priests, the humblest and most oppressed portion of the community, to whom alone a crusade against the Turk could have the slightest attraction. They assembled in their counties, and by the time Dozsa had drilled them into some sort of discipline and self-confidence, they began to air the grievances of their class. No measures had been taken to supply these voluntary crusaders with food or clothing; as harvest-time approached, the landlords commanded them to return to reap the fields, and on their refusing to do so, proceeded to maltreat their wives and families and set their armed retainers upon the half-starved multitudes. Instantly the movement was diverted from its original object, and the peasants and their leaders began a war of extermination against the landlords. By this time Dozsa was losing control of the rabble, which had fallen under the influence of the socialist parson of Czegled, Lörincz Mészáros. The rebellion was the more dangerous as the town rabble was on the side of the peasants, and in Buda and other places the cavalry sent against the Kuruczok were unhorsed as they passed through the gates. The rebellion spread like lightning, principally in the central or purely Magyar provinces, where hundreds of manor-houses and castles were burnt and thousands of the gentry done to death by impalement, crucifixion and other unspeakable methods. Dozsa's camp at Czegled was the centre of the jacquerie, and from thence he sent out his bands in every direction, pillaging and burning. In vain the papal bull was revoked, in vain the king issued a proclamation commanding the peasantry to return to their homes under pain of death. By this time the rising had attained the dimensions of a revolution; all the feudal levies of the kingdom were called out against it; and mercenaries were hired in haste from Venice, Bohemia and the emperor. Meanwhile Dozsa had captured the city and fortress of Csánad, and signalized his victory by impaling the bishop and the castellan. Subsequently, at Arad, the lord treasurer, István Telegdy, was seized and tortured to death with satanic ingenuity. It should, however, in fairness be added that only notorious bloodsuckers, or obstinately resisting noblemen, were destroyed in this way. Those who freely submitted were always released on parole, and Dozsa not only never broke his given word, but frequently assisted the escape of fugitives. But he could not always control his followers when their blood was up, and infinite damage was done before he could stop it. At first, too, it seemed as if the government were incapable of coping with him. In the course of the summer he took the fortresses of Arad, Lippá and Világos; provided himself with guns and trained gunners; and one of his bands advanced to within five leagues of the capital. But his half-naked, ill-armed ploughboys were at last overmatched by the mailclad chivalry of the nobles. Dozsa, too, had become demoralized by success. After Csánad, he issued proclamations which can only be described as nihilistic. His suppression had become a political necessity. He was finally routed at Temesvár by the combined forces of János Zápolya and István Báthory, was captured, and condemned to sit on a red-hot iron throne, with a red-hot iron crown on his head and a red-hot sceptre in his hand. This infernal sentence was actually carried out, and, life still lingering, the half-roasted carcass of the unhappy wretch, who endured everything with invincible heroism, was finally devoured by half-a-dozen of his fellow-rebels, who by way of preparation had been starved for a whole week beforehand.

See Sándor Marki, Dozsa György (Hung.), Budapest, 1884.

(R. N. B.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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